October 26, 2009

Southbrook Winery 1998 Riesling Icewine

Found October 2009

Tonight a bottle of 11 year old Southbrook Riesling Icewine was opened in my presence, and whenever an interesting bottle is opened in my presence I feel I must report on it. The cork glided out of the bottle with barely a whimper and a quick inspection of the cork showed a caking of tartaric crystals, I assured everyone that this was an okay thing. The smell was of burnt caramel nut clusters while the taste was sweet candied dried fruit with pecans in a caramel toffee sauce ... the aftertaste, following the swallowe, produced a rusty apple on the rather long finish. To put this wine into a context you might be able to understand, the wine was similar in consistency and colour of a Pedro Ximenez based cream sherry (thick and syrupy), and just as dark. An intersting piece of Ontario's, and Southbrook's, history. Lost & Found Rating: Tolerable, but in very small amounts.

October 19, 2009

Calamus Estate Winery 2005 Riesling

(Re-Tasted October 2009) ... If truth be told, it was probably Derek Saunders (owner of Calamus) who got me to think strongly about doing this blog. I had already been putting wines down for aging purposes before this wine found its way into an aging box (number 10 to be exact), but Derek said, "I want you to take this bottle and age it for a few years so we can get an idea of how it tastes." At the time he gave me this bottle Ontarians thought it tasted pretty good, not only did Derek sell out quickly of this $12 Riesling (a real bargain), but he also won an award for best Riesling at the Ontario Wine Awards for it. I had written on the bottle "Derek wants to know what I think of this wine after a stay in my cellar" - and I guess now I am about to tell him. The initial nose (upon opening) was heavy on gasoline; the taste was high octane with lemony-peachy notes with high acidity - but the sweet petrol was powerful and overtook much of the flavours. After about 20 minutes the wine calmed down a little, the petrol notes settled, though it was still there, and we were able to pick out big citrus tastes including grapefruit and lemon rind and an acidity that really rocked the tongue. It aged pretty well, though still suffers from "premature petrol" that most (if not all) 2005 Ontario Rieslings came to get.

October 11, 2009

Norman Hardie 2005 County Cabernet Franc

(Re-Tasted October 2009) ... Norm Hardie isn't known for making Cabernet Franc, his specialties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; he's also been known to make a pretty good Riesling and Pinot Gris, this would have been his first Cabernet Franc at his eponymous winery. 2005 was a pretty good year for Ontario reds, though it was a short crop year (meaning we had far less fruit then usual due to a worse than usual winter). This Franc is very Pinot like with a nose that's very raspberry and smoky with tobacco notes. The palate also screams Pinot Noir, so much so that I re-checked the label to make sure it really did say "CabernetFranc": light red fruit, cranberry, sour cherry and some tobacco with a tart acidic finish. There was also a fair bit of earthiness on both the nose and palate, which was another reason I had to re-look at the label. This tasted like a Franc made by a Pinot producer - or a Franc that was mislabelled; either way it was unrecognizeable as a Cabernet Franc, but it was far from a bad wine.

October 6, 2009

Southbrook 1999 Triomphe Merlot - Lailey Vineyard

Found October 2009

To say I enjoyed this wine is an understatement. Heck, to say I really enjoyed this wine would also be an understatement ... this was a fantastic wine. I found this 10 year old Merlot in my wine cellar while doing some re-arranging (I do that every so often, it re-familiarizes me with what I have, let's me see bottles I never knew I had - and some I wish I didn't). Those who have followed my Lost and Found column know that when I first really got into wine Southbrook was my "local" winery; they started out in the Richmond Hill area (only 30 minutes north of Toronto - 20 if you drove quickly). So I seem to have a treasure trove of old Southbrook bottles in my collection. The reason for that is that both Bill Redelmeier (owner) and then winemaker, Derek Barnett, who were often found manning the wine store counter, would always talk about the age-ability of their wines. And they weren't just whistling Dixie with this one. There is so much going on in this wine at this age it really is hard to describe completely. There's still fruit, most of it dried, and hints of green pepper; one moment your tasting the dried fruit and the green pepper pokes in for a sip, then there's some oak influence that takes over, then a spicy character comes through with his friend herb, and near the end of the glass (some 2 hours later) I could have sworn I had chocolate, black cherry and butterscotch caramel in my mouth. Now granted there was some dustiness to those flavours, but they were there, dry and smooth as silk. Anybody who doubts the age-worthiness of Ontario wine should really check out what Southbrook was making in the late 90's, then come back to me and we'll talk. Lost & Found Rating: Treasure +

October 4, 2009

Moutain Road Wine Company 2002 Reserves: Cabernet and Cabernet Franc

Found October 2009

Tonight it was a two-fer finding, two Mountain Road Reserves from the great 2002 vintage. It didn't start out to be a two-fer evening, granted I found both bottles at the same time, but I figured I'd try one tonight and one tomorrow. I opened the 2002 Cabernet Franc Reserve first, and good thing I did. There was a funny smell emanating from the glass, then it hit me, volatile (nail polish) mingled with green pepper. I tried to decant the wine, and then I waited a bit, hoping it would blow off, but it never did - even 4 hours later it still hung on in the glass that I left on the counter. And just because I am "that kind of guy" I tasted it and received a mouthful of green pepper shellacked in nail polish. Not as nice as it sounds, trust me.

Therefore, it was with a little trepidation that I opened the next bottle, the 2002 Cabernet Reserve. I can only assume this is a blend of Cabs, Sauvignon and Franc, because there is nothing written on the label as to the make up of the wine or the percentages. This one showed a touch of volatility, but the red berries, sweet vanilla oak and chocolate liqueur over took that. Decanting helped to rid the wine of its minor fault. Tasting proved it to be sweet in the mouth with cranberry cocktail flavours on the mid-palate. The wine still tasted fresh, had lively acidity and a long pleasant finish, which had a bit of raisiny sweetness to it. The colour was good too: red with the barest hint of browning. Delightful, and it got better as the night wore on. Lost & Found Rating: Cabernet Reserve - Treasure; Cabernet Franc Reserve - Trash